Climbing Tours in Colorado Springs: A Guide to Conquering New Heights

Introduction to Climbing Tours in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs – a name that resonates with the echoes of adventure. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Rockies, this city is your gateway to vertical challenges and awe-inspiring sights. Think towering rock formations, panoramic mountain views, and routes that beckon climbers of all skill levels. Here, climbing isn’t just an activity; it’s a journey of self-discovery. Whether you’re looking to conquer the ragged spires of Garden of the Gods or ascend the granite cliffs of Pikes Peak, climbing tours in Colorado Springs offer you a unique chance to push your limits and embrace the sky. So, lace up your boots, chalk up your hands and let’s get ready to reach new heights in this ultimate high-altitude playground.
Rock climbing in Colorado

Choosing the Right Climbing Tour for You

Picking the right climbing tour in Colorado Springs means matching your skill level with the route’s demands. If you’re a newbie, start with a beginner-friendly tour where you can learn the ropes under the guidance of experienced climbers. For those with rock time under their belt, intermediate tours offer a mix of challenging climbs without being too daunting. Serious climbers, aim for advanced tours known for their steep, heart-pumping ascents. Remember, the right tour not only matches your experience but also vibes with what you want to feel and see on your climb. Do you want stunning views, or is it all about testing your limits? Factor in the length of the tour too; some are quick jaunts, others full-day affairs. Research, ask around, and maybe test your grit on a shorter climb before you commit to a day-long adventure. This approach will ensure you land the climbing experience that will have you buzzing with adrenaline and stories to tell.

Preparing for Your Climbing Adventure: Tips and Tricks

Before you start ascending those Colorado peaks, make sure you’re ready. Start by getting in shape; hiking and climbing demand endurance and strength. Get the right gear, too: a sturdy pair of climbing shoes, a helmet, and a harness are the basics. Know the weather—it changes fast in the mountains, so pack layers. Learn the ropes, literally, if you’re doing technical climbs; take a class or go with an experienced guide. And keep your pack light, just take what you need. Most of all, pace yourself and stay hydrated. Up there, it’s you and the mountain, so be prepared and enjoy the climb.

Top Climbing Destinations in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs offers an incredible almost magnetic pull for climbers. Set against the backdrop of the Rockies, it’s a climber’s paradise. One must-see is the Garden of the Gods. A surreal landscape with routes for all skill levels, it’s where you want to plant your flag first. The striking red rocks light up at sunset, a scene not to be missed. We then have Cheyenne Canyon, boasting sheer cliffs and a variety of climbs that challenge your grit. If trad climbing’s in your heart, head to Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The name’s a spoiler, it’s an open invitation to test your mettle. And never skip the ever-iconic Pikes Peak, towering over everything. Yes, the air’s thin, the climb’s tough, but the view’s worth every drop of sweat. Each spot’s unique, with Colorado Springs serving up climbing adventures not just to conquer new heights, but to forge memories set in granite.

Understanding the Difficulty Levels of Climbing Tours

When you’re eyeing climbing tours in Colorado Springs, it’s crucial to grasp what you’re up against. The climbing community classifies routes using a grading system. The ratings tell you the climb’s difficulty, and here’s what they boil down to. Easier climbs are rated as 5.0 to 5.7. These are great for beginners, offering a good mix of challenge without the scare factor. Intermediate routes range from 5.8 to 5.10. Here, you’ll encounter steeper climbs and need better technique. Advanced climbs, rated 5.11 and above, demand solid skills and a daring attitude. While these ratings are a good start, remember, every climber’s experience is unique. What’s tough for one might be a breeze for another. So, choose a tour that matches your spirit and skill, and you’re good to go!

Safety First: Gear and Guidance for Climbing Tours

When it comes to climbing in Colorado Springs, safety is not a mere afterthought—it’s crucial. Before you even think about conquering those rocky behemoths, you’ll need the right gear. This includes a sturdy helmet to protect your noggin, reliable climbing shoes for solid footing, and a harness that will hold you securely. You can’t skimp on carabiners, ropes, and belay devices—quality here can make or break your ascent… and we’re not just talking figuratively.

And let’s be clear—safety gear is only part of the story. Guidance from seasoned pros is invaluable. Whether you’re a newbie or have some climbs under your belt, going with a guide can steer you clear of common pitfalls. They’ll show you the ropes, quite literally, and help you learn the lay of the land. Climbing tours in Colorado Springs are something special, with breathtaking vistas and routes ranging from beginner-friendly to those that will test your grit. But regardless of the thrill or the challenge you seek, never compromise on safety. Gear up right. Team up with experts. And then, climb on with confidence.

The Best Time of Year for Climbing in Colorado Springs

To seize the best climbing experience in Colorado Springs, timing is key. Aim for spring and fall, when mild temperatures prevail, making your ascent comfortable. These seasons gift climbers with prime conditions: cool enough to avoid sweating on the rocks but warm enough to keep your muscles loose and ready for action. Summer offers longer daylight for ambitious climbs, yet the heat might test your mettle. Winter is for the bold; ice climbing steps into the spotlight, though it’s not for the faint of heart. No matter when you go, Colorado Springs’ climbs remain grand, but spring and fall—those are the golden times for climbers chasing the perfect grip under the wide Colorado sky.

Climbing Tour Packages: What’s Included and Pricing

When you’re browsing climbing tours in Colorado Springs, you’ll notice package deals range in contents and price. Generally, climbing tour packages include experienced guide services, essential climbing gear like harnesses, helmets, and ropes, and sometimes, transportation to the climbing site. Some even throw in meals or snacks to keep your energy high. As for pricing, a basic half-day tour can start around (100 to )150 per person. A full-day adventure might set you back (200 to )300. High-end, multi-day packages with more perks can cost significantly more, but they offer a deeper dive into the climbing experience. Just remember, the steepest price doesn’t always mean the best climb. Look for what suits your climb ambitions and wallet.

Experiences Shared: Testimonials from Climbing Enthusiasts

People rave about the climbing tours here, with some calling it a transformative adventure. The enthusiasm is contagious when you read how climbers, whether novices or seasoned pros, found something special about scaling the Rocky terrain. Several recall the rush of reaching the summit, the camaraderie developed with fellow climbers, and the skilled guides who instilled confidence every step of the way. From tales of conquering personal fears to celebrating the jaw-dropping views, these testimonials confirm that the climbs challenge the body and invigorate the soul. The consensus is clear—this is more than just an activity, it’s a journey packed with adrenaline and memorable moments that stick with you long after you’ve descended.

Wrapping Up: How to Book Your Climbing Tour in Colorado Springs

Ready to scale the majestic peaks of Colorado Springs? Booking your climbing tour is as simple as choosing your path and finding a guide. Start by deciding on the level of challenge you’re after—beginner, intermediate, or expert. Next, sift through local tour companies, many with skilled guides eager to usher you to the summit. Check reviews and go for guides boasting rock-solid reputations. Once you land on a good fit, reach out, set a date, and lock it in with a deposit if needed. Remember, peak times can mean packed schedules, so it’s smart to book early. Gear up, get psyched, and you’re all set to confront the cliffs!

What is Colorado Springs Famous For?

The fame of Colorado spreads far and wide. The entire state is known for its breathtaking mountains, sweeping vistas, and huge amounts of outdoor recreation. There are plenty of cities that you can call home, from Boulder and Denver to Grand Junction and Durango.

Out of all these areas, Colorado Springs tops the charts at number one on lists like America’s Best Cities by Outside Magazine and Best Big City in Money magazine. 

So, with all of the hot spots spread throughout the state, why is Colorado Springs so popular? 

Location, Location, Location

For starters, this big city sits in one of the most prime locations in the entire state. The city is just over 6,000 feet up in altitude and located only 60 miles south of Denver. Not only do they have easy access to the sun and the bigger city here, but there’s also quick access to Pikes Peak, one of the most well-renowned mountains in the entire country.

This location brings the area some of the best weather to be found just about anywhere. The altitude brings a strong and warming sun, and the city only gets an average of 41 inches of snowfall each year. There are rarely huge piles of snow sitting downtown, but you can get to the slopes and ski to your heart’s desire in no time at all. 

The foothills of the Rockies are a pristine example of beautiful locations for outdoor recreation. Colorado Springs is best known for Garden of the Gods, a massive National Natural Landmark with biodiversity as it sprawls from the grasslands up into the mountains. With a playground like this, locals rarely need to travel far to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Strong Sense of Community

Although the city has a population of well over 450,000, there is still a tight-knit community that holds strong regardless of numbers. Any time you visit, there are arts festivals, farmer’s markets, or music events somewhere in the city. There’s constantly something to do because everyone wants to make this a fun and diverse place to live. 

The community shares one main thing in common: the outdoors.

People here are keen on getting out and exploring, which may be why the town’s dress code seems to be “business casual.” Patagonia jackets and Prana pants are the typical attire worn around the city, ready to get out into the mountains at all times. Everyone wants to help others get outside.

That’s also why there are so many great outdoor tours in Colorado Springs

This love for the outdoors transfers into a love for general health. It always finds its way onto lists about the Healthiest Cities in America, and you can see why. Not only is there a ton of access to active weekends, but it also has some of the cleanest air in the entire state. People here care about the environment, and it shows. This is only one of the many reasons that quality of life is so high. 

Home to the Olympics

Another unique part of this majestic city is the Olympic Training Center. The US Olympic Headquarters has made its home here, seeing the opportunity for a great location to train athletes. 

On-site, there is an Olympic museum that displays the past accomplishments of our country’s athletes. You can learn a lot about how athletes train to become the best of the best as they all race to achieve their dreams. 

The 35-acre campus can be a lot to explore on your own, so you can jump onto a guided tour just about any time during the week. There are tours open, and available Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. It’s well worth the exploration to get an insight into a completely different lifestyle. 

Pets Rule

If you’re a dog person, a cat person, or even an iguana person, this city is for you.

This is one of the most pet-friendly places out there, with dog parks all around and pet-friendly trails, so you never have to leave anyone at home. 

Education Centered

Colorado Springs is well-known for the focus it places on providing a top-notch education for its residents. The city scores highly on all standardized tests, and its high schools emphasize college preparation as part of their curriculum. 

There are several universities and colleges that call this city home, such as the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Colorado. Plenty of students commute to and from the city just because it is a place worth living, even if you need to drive every day. 

Families and married couples are drawn to this city to raise their children and receive some of the best education around. It’s a phenomenal place to raise children, as you won’t ever be bored or seeking out others to play with. 

Things to Do

There’s so much to do inside and outside the city limits. The list is endless. The downtown has an active nightlife that appeals to night owls that want to get out and dance. It also has cozy coffee houses where you can go and read a book or get work done. All of these bakeries, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants boast a magnificent view of the Rocky Mountains right from your seat.

If you are looking to get outside of the city and explore, the list gets even longer. There are plenty of Colorado Springs attractions near the city limits, like Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. There are massive parks all around where you can hike, mountain bike, ride horses, fish, and be. 

It’s time to get out to Colorado Springs and see what it has for you. There’s only so much that words can tell you, and this is a place that you genuinely need to see for yourself. 

Hot Air Balloons and Family Travel are both in Colorado Springs

FAMILY TRAVEL TO COLORADO SPRINGS

You have searched the web, brainstormed a list of the fun things the family would like to explore, narrowed down your options, and decided that your next family travel adventures will take you to Colorado Springs with a stay at The Broadmoor.

There are more than 50 Colorado Springs attractions that are family-friendly, so you will have many activities to help you stay occupied.

FAMILY FUN FOR FREE

Should you be looking for free activities on your Colorado Springs family travel excursion, the possibilities are endless.

Check out Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. This fascinating institution will take you through Colorado Springs history and the Pikes Peak region. Located in the El Paso County Court House, meander amongst the permanent exhibits displaying the area’s history, and the changing topics that cover a wide variety of issues.

Head down to The Penrose Heritage Museum and learn more about the folks that built The Broadmoor, Julie, and Spencer Penrose. Explore some of Penrose’s carriage collection they were fortunate to use during their life. With 4,000 square feet of space, this lovely museum also holds The Pikes Peak International Hill Club memorabilia.

Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum will be an excellent stop for the motorcycle enthusiast in your family! Walk amongst more than fifty motorcycles that will take you back to the early 1900s. This museum also highlights the people that have been part of motorcycle history.

Take a stroll around the lake at The Broadmoor. Take your favorite beverage out on the patio, or indulge in lunch at an on-site restaurant. Should you be at this beautiful Five Star, Five Diamond property in December, grab the camera and snap pictures of all the exquisite decorations throughout the hotel.

FEE DESTINATIONS FOR THOSE 10 AND UNDER

Next up, destinations tailor-made for the little folks such as Dinosaur Resource Center. The kiddos will feel like they are back in time when they wander through T-Rex fossils, flying reptiles, and raptors.

Take a ride to Manitou Springs and find the Penny Arcade. What better place to teach the kiddos how to manage their money, as the almighty dollar will go far here. Everyone will have a great time challenging each other to a friendly game of skeeball.

While in Manitou Springs, visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and see what life was like for the Puebloan people. During the summertime, you will be able to experience actual wolf encounters and Native American dances.

DESTINATIONS FOR THE LITTLE ONES

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers lions, tigers, and bears. Giraffe and elephant feeding will be an excellent activity for the little ones, and you will want to snap photos of those precious moments.

For your groups space lovers, make a trip to Space Foundation Discovery Center for some out of this world fun! Solar systems and a 6-foot projection screen will let them learn about the earth.

DO NOT FORGET THE TEENS

Grab the teenagers and head out on a Segway Tour. Find a great company and possibly explore the Garden of the Gods. Zip through wonders of nature and take in all the beauty.

Another favorite activity to include the teens is a friendly game of Laser Tag!

ACTIVITIES AT THE BROADMOOR

For those families that do not wish to venture out from The Broadmoor, that is fine, check out these great activities offered at The Broadmoor, and perfect for families.

Old Stage Riding Stables offer some excellent riding trails with fabulous views of the resort. Saddle up and enjoy a day out with your fantastic guide as they take you along trails that show you how impressive Colorado Springs can be.

Check out The Broadmoor Hunt and its twist on scavenger hunts. This hunt is app-based. Your family will utilize their camera phones along with the video functions to explore The Broadmoor, searching out history when you locate those valuable historical items. Solve questions, snap photos, and create family fun videos during your outdoor adventure.

Allow two hours to wrap up your family fun. When you want to know how others in your group are doing, ask the Broadmoor Outfitters staff for feedback in real-time.

Family taking a guided hike in the Garden of The Gods, Colorado Springs

An exhaustive guide to simpler traveling with small children

Getting ready to come to Colorado Springs. Great, there is a lot to do for you, and your family. Mary Kearl gives us some great tips and hints to bringing your young ones along.

I spent the first half of 2019 traveling with my husband and our one-year-old throughout South America, where we managed to visit some remote places, such as the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, the floating islands of the Uros people in Peru, and Ushuaia, in Argentina, also known as the end of the world.

When we talk about this, many fellow parents ask how we did it. Most of them say it’s a challenge to take their kid to the mall or the restaurant down the street, let alone travel with them to the other side of the world. The funny thing is that it’s always hard—putting your child’s needs first and keeping them healthy, happy, and entertained will always be difficult no matter how far from home you are.

Having visited 14 countries and 16 U.S. states on a total of 77 trips (and counting) with our child, I’ve learned a thing or two about traveling with babies and toddlers. It’s hard, but it’s possible.

Documentation

It may seem obvious, but no matter how young your child is, they’ll need a passport to leave the country—but it involves more than simply filling out a form. Getting a minor a passport requires demonstrating proof of citizenship, and the primary method is to submit a copy of their birth certificate. This document usually becomes available one month after a child’s birth, but may take longer. In our case, this proved challenging because our child was less than a month old when we first sought out a passport. We tried our local court, but finally obtained the document from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for $28.

Health preparations

Thinking something might happen to you or your partner while away from home can be scary, but those fears amplify tenfold when you’re traveling with a young child. “Truth be told, most places are pretty safe for kids,” says Dr. Katherine Williamson, vice president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Travel is accommodating for families of all ages.”

But of course, being prepared makes things a lot easier for both the parents and the baby. Just add these items to your checklist before you hit the road:

Consult with your pediatrician

Ahead of your travels, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with or talk to your pediatrician about any further advice regarding your child.

Medication

If your child is undergoing any kind of medical treatment, make sure you pack enough to last for the entirety of your trip. To be on the safe side, Williamson recommends packing a couple of extra doses and a prescription in case you need to purchase the medication while abroad.

Vaccinations

Make sure your child is up to date on their routine vaccines. Start by protecting them against influenza with the flu shot for kids aged six months and older, and check the Center for Disease Control guidelines about what other vaccines they’ll need for particular countries or specific outbreaks that might be occurring. One of the biggest concerns involving travel outside the U.S. is measles. Routine vaccines starting at age one will protect against this highly contagious disease, but your child can get the measles vaccine as early as six months if you’re traveling, Williamson says.

Plan ahead to ensure proper sleep

The first two to three days are key, and you should try to get ahead of jet lag as much as possible by gradually adjusting your kid’s bedtime. For time changes greater than two or three hours, Williamson recommends you give toddlers between 0.5 to 1 milligram of melatonin while you’re on the plane at what will be bedtime at the destination you’re visiting. This will help them start sleeping at the right time. Conversely, once you get to your destination, help your child adjust to time zone changes by having them be active during waking hours, exposing them to sunlight during the day, and not letting them nap longer than normal.

Talk to people who’ve been there

There’s only so much online research you can do before being overloaded with information. The best way to get a sense of a place is to talk to somebody who’s actually been there and ask whatever questions Google couldn’t answer for you.

Packing

Let's play a game: try spotting the toddler among the suitcases.
. Popular Science

As of this writing, our family of three has been living out of two suitcases, a backpack, and a diaper bag for exactly 10 months. That sounds challenging for two adults alone, but packing requires a whole new level of expertise when an infant or toddler is involved. Fear not—we’ve been learning from our mistakes so you don’t have to. Next time you embark on an adventure with your little one, make sure you always have these items handy:

Enough clothes

When our child was an infant, my packing rule of thumb was to bring about three daytime outfits and two pajamas per day to account for spills, getting sick, and diaper leaks. It’s a lot, but with the transition to toddlerhood, I kept following this rule with great success, only breaking it when I know I’m going somewhere we’ll be able to wash our clothes.

Diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream

These are a must, whether you’re flying across the world with your toddler or visiting a friend on the other side of town. The key here is to ensure you’ll never have to depend on finding a store, so even though it may sound over-the-top, I pack double the amount of diapers and wipes I think I’ll need. In my experience, no matter how big an airport or transit station is, it’s not likely even the most essential baby products will be readily available.

Plenty of entertainment

This will take up space, so be prepared to carry this stuff in its own bag if necessary. To start with, we pack a lot of board books—10 for trips of any size, since we may read through all of them before our child is ready for nap time. Hopefully, it’ll take fewer with yours, but be prepared to have options, or you’ll be stuck reading the same two or three stories on a loop. Also, include several toys and stuffed animals. Make sure you bring extra, since it’s almost certain you’ll lose some along the way.

A baby carrier

A great alternative to the traditional stroller. We used this for our seven months of international travel, since most places we visited had uneven terrain and were not stroller-friendly.

Car seat

This is important whether you’re driving your own car or not, since there’s no guarantee one will be available or in good condition through your rental car company. Plus, the rental price of a seat can be more than the cost of a new car seat, depending on the length of your trip.

A travel bed and baby blanket

Some parents will try to save themselves some trouble and co-sleep with their babies. But the APP doesn’t recommend this for children younger than a year old, so bringing a travel bed for your baby is absolutely necessary. More on this later.

Other essentials

Nail clippers, baby thermometer (digital or traditional—it’s up to you), travel first aid kit (it’s easiest to buy one and complement it with additional necessities for you and your child), two bottles, and two sippy cups (it’s best to have two of each to replace a lost one or stand in for a dirty one).

The medical packing list

Being sick while traveling is bad, but for babies it's even worse. Make sure to pack everything your child needs if something goes wrong. Here's hoping you'll never use any of it.
. Popular Science

You know when you travel and you feel tired and grumpy, and sometimes that even leads to physical pain or discomfort? Well, young children go through the same, and they usually don’t know how to cope with it. Williamson recommends packing these essentials to avoid or quickly placate any illness:

Acetaminophen (safe for infants and toddlers) or ibuprofen (safe for children at least six months old).

  • Use for general pain and discomfort.
  • These help with almost anything, from flight-related pressure to a fever. If your child is having a hard time, Williamson recommends to giving it to them mixed with a drink or soft food, like pudding or yogurt.

Cetirizine and loratadine (safe for kids aged two and up) or diphenhydramine (safe for six months and up).

  • Use to prevent travel or motion sickness, and to treat minor allergic reactions that only entail skin rashes. If, while traveling, your child develops any allergies that include swelling of the lips, eyelids, or extremities, or starts vomiting or has difficulty breathing, see a doctor immediately.

Hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion.

  • Use for mosquito bites.
  • For all bug bites, Williamson suggests applying hydrocortisone cream and then a layer of calamine lotion on top.

Ondansetron (consult with your pediatrician), a powdered electrolyte replacement , and potentially antibiotics for if you contract traveler’s diarrhea from consuming contaminated food or water (consult with your pediatrician)

  • Use for motion sickness, nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
  • For some kids, it’s common to get sick in the car or on the plane. If that’s the case with your child, Williamson recommends talking to a pediatrician about getting a prescription for ondansetron, which can also help with gastrointestinal issues, such as an upset stomach. If your toddler is experiencing nausea or diarrhea, rehydration solutions such as an electrolyte replacement can help ensure your child stays hydrated. And if you’re traveling somewhere where traveler’s diarrhea is a concern, you should ask your pediatrician if getting a prescription antibiotic for the condition would be appropriate for your child.

Other medical devices and medications as needed. If your child has known conditions, pack all the things you’ll need to treat them. This includes an inhaler or nebulizer (for children with respiratory issues), an epinephrine injector (for children with severe allergic reactions), and antibiotics (for children prone to ear infections).

Preparing a “shortcut” bag

When you’re packing for a toddler, consider two levels of packing: everything you’ll need for your trip, and the bag of whatever you want to have handy when you’re on the go—no matter how you’re traveling. Our diaper bag is always so stuffed with all the above necessities that I usually throw it in the overhead bin or keep it at our accommodations when we head out to sightsee. What I do instead is pack another bag, such as a lightweight foldable backpack, that serves as an accessible baby emergency kit. Here’s what to pack:

  • A sippy cup and bottle
  • Snacks, such as cereal, crackers, fruit, and nuts (once your child is eating solids)
  • Formula (up to 12 months) or whole milk (1 year and up)
  • Wipes, and one or two diapers
  • One change of clothing for your toddler
  • A couple of favorite toys and books
  • A plastic bag (in case your baby gets motion sickness, or to store a diaper until it can be disposed of)
  • (Optional) A change of clothing for the parents—especially if your kid is prone to motion sickness. We learned this the hard way after our baby got sick on our laps, and all of our clothes were packed away in checked bags under a plane.

Surviving the journey

It'll be exciting and exhausting. And not just for you.
. Popular Science

I remember how terrified I was ahead of our first cross-country flight—I didn’t want to be that family everybody hates because their baby won’t stop crying. Most people with small children will get to know this fear, but they won’t travel enough to figure out just how to deal with a small kid on a plane. With our now-two-year-old having logged 63 flights and counting, I can confirm what you may have already suspected: there’s no science to the perfect trip with a small child. That said, there are some strategies that will help.

Always pick the aisle seat

From diaper changes to crying sessions, you’ll want the easiest possible access to the bathroom and aisle.

Assume every carry-on item will require extra screening by airport security

Even though liquids, such as breast milk and juice, are allowed on planes when you’re traveling with an infant or toddler, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration says it “may need to test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items.” We have missed flights due to extra screening, so be sure to factor this in when you calculate the amount of time you’ll need to arrive at the gate in time.

Take advantage of early boarding

Families with small children usually get the privilege of boarding planes first. Use the extra time to arrange your seat so you’ll have easy access to all those go-to travel items listed above, one last diaper change, and bathroom trips for the adults.

Plan for the worst

This means arranging everything as if your baby won’t sleep for a minute of the journey and there will be travel delays. At first, people recommended we take night flights so we’d all be more likely to sleep. This worked well and our little one became the ideal traveler, sleeping for most, if not all, of any given flight. But that has changed, and our child has begun sleeping less consistently on the plane. Now we book daytime flights and plan as if everyone is going to be awake (and will need to be entertained) the entire time.

Don’t be scared

Some people will be annoyed to find themselves sitting next to you and your kid on a plane, but that seems to be the exception to the rule. In my experience, most people understand how much harder travel is with a young one, and go out of their way to help you.

Sleeping

Ahead of our first cross-country trip with our baby, my husband and I opted for a portable bassinet which met our search criteria by having the following features:

  • Sides made of breathable mesh
  • Removable, washable padding
  • Could be folded to fit under the seat of a plane
  • Could fit a baby for up to six months (some are only recommended for the first three to four months, making a $50-$100 purchase quickly obsolete)

The bassinet worked great for the first six months, but after that, and as our child grew, we had to get creative. Co-sleeping with our baby in our beds didn’t work because our presence distracted our otherwise sound sleeper, who woke several times during the night. We also tried creating a makeshift bed out of pillows and blankets, which worked fine until our baby started crawling and began moving out of the nest. After that, we considered a portable travel crib, but because it’s the size of an oversized backpack when folded, it falls into a grey area when it comes to baggage policy, and can sometimes qualify as a suitcase (at a cost) for discount airlines.

Ultimately we landed on the $15.99 Wayfinder TravelTot baby tent, which works just as well as more expensive options, such as the portable crib. But unlike other alternatives, this tent folds down to a thin sleeve that fits in my carry-on backpack. Since it has no padding, we usually request extra bedding and stack one or two thick quilts underneath the bed and layer a baby blanket inside. The bed survived 11 countries, 61 different Airbnbs and hotels, 30 flights, dozens of ferries and buses, and helped us maintain nap and sleep schedules during a 17-hour flight delay in Bariloche, Argentina. After all that wear and tear, we’re now on our second one.

While our baby’s bed has remained consistent, everything else—the sounds, lighting, temperature, and time zones—has been in constant change. The first two weeks of our international journey, we saw our normally easy sleeper taking longer and longer to fall asleep. Now we make an effort to keep the bedtime routine as consistent as possible—every night, no matter where we are in the world, we have a half-hour wind-down period for a bath and reading books. Things improved almost immediately.

Setting realistic expectations

Yeah, this is not it.
. Popular Science

Family trips with our baby have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. That said, the travel life is different when one member of the family is sleeping half the day, needs to eat more than three meals a day, and has a variable attention span.

While it is possible to travel with a baby, it is important to ground your expectations, and most likely change the way you’ve been traveling so far. For us, this has meant having a more limited list of things we want to see and do, or even staying longer than recommended in a place to complete it.

We’ve also realized we cannot do everything together as a family, and sometimes it’s a good idea to part ways. In the Ica Desert in Peru, my husband went on a dune buggy ride while baby and I went swimming in the Huacachina oasis, and in the Amazon, I went on a night crocodile tour while my husband and baby slept. It is a great way to ensure everyone gets to do what they want to do.

Needless to say, we don’t see much nightlife due to the child’s bedtime, and it’s always a good idea to opt for free or lower-cost activities, museums, and live performances rather than investing money in ones we may not be able to fully enjoy.

As a lifelong traveler, I wanted to share my love of travel with my child—and it’s paid off.

Written by Mary Kearl for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.